Americana, Etc., is Volume IV of the series Dispatches from the Fifth Circle. The first three volumes are
Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies
On Liberty: Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes
“We the People” and Other American Myths
There are links to and descriptions of Volumes I, II, and III in the four preceding posts.
Here’s some of the Introduction to Volume IV:
Volumes I, II, and III of this series are rather deep. It’s time for a break. The entries in this volume are sometimes serious, but the mood of the volume is light. It’s also rather random, jumping from baseball to movies to classical music to nostalgia, and so on.
I’ve included a long, final entry, “On Writing,” for want of a better venue. “On Writing” incorporates some of the ideas advanced in a few earlier entries, but it goes well beyond them. I commend it to you if you’re serious about becoming a better writer.
An annotated table of contents will give you an idea of the broad range of topics covered in Volume IV:
Political Parlance — A translation of words and phrases often used in politics.
Some Management Tips — A quiz to find out if you’re the pointy-haired boss.
Ten-Plus Commandments of Liberalism, er, Progressivism– What to believe if you want to be a good progressive (oxymoron alert).
Pet Peeves — The things that get my goat (and should get yours, too).
To Pay or Not to Pay — “Shakespeare” on taxes.
The Ghost of Impeachments Past Presents: The Trials of William Jefferson Whatsit — How Clinton’s impeachment trial should have gone.
The Good Old Days — Nostalgia.
Getting It Perfect — A satirical look at the Constitution’s amendments.
His Life as a Victim — Bill Clinton’s biography reviewed.
Modernism and the Arts — Why classical music and art went to the dogs in the 20th century.
Reveries — A remembrance of places past.
Thinking Back — The good and bad of technological change.
Thoughts of Winter — A selection of poetry for enjoying while sitting by the fire on a snowy evening.
Baseball Nostalgia — The Detroit Tigers “real” ballpark and great players.
Comix, Past and Present — The comic strips and books of my youth, some of which survive.
PC Madness — Why aren’t Norwegians up in arms about the Minnesota “Vikings”?
The Seven Faces of Blogging — A different take on Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man.”
Christmas Movies — The best of the bunch.
Mister Hockey — Gordie Howe beats Wayne Gretzky, hands down, and I have the numbers to prove it.
The Passing of Red-Brick Schoolhouses and a Way of Life — The end of the age of innocence.
My Old Sears Home — Sears used to sell houses, and I owned one of them.
Baseball Realignment — Adding spice to the game, cutting off the cold ends of the season.
Wordplay — The vagaries of English pronunciation in a few lines.
Nameplay — Fun facts about the waxing and waning popularity of first names, with some excursions into president’s names.
Pride and Prejudice on Film — My favorite version, and others.
September Songs — Autumnal melancholia.
Testing for Steroids — McGwire and Bonds, guilty by the numbers.
Baseball’s Losers — Three long-suffering franchises.
The War: A Final Grade — How to feel guilty about winning the “good” war.
Did Roger Do It? — Probably, but not by the numbers.
Stuff White (Liberal Yuppie) People Like — You’ll like it if you aren’t a white liberal yuppie.
Baseball and Groundhog Day — Arcane facts about baseball standings.
The Seven-Game World Series — Not as suspenseful as it could be.
Presidential Trivia — More arcana about names, heights, longevity, etc.
The American League’s Greatest Hitters — Was Ty Cobb really the greatest of them all?
Driving and Politics — What a person’s driving habits (might) say about his politics.
A Trip to the Movies — The quality of films over the decades, with some bows to the best.
Men’s Health — Remedying an oversight in this age of feminism.
Arm-Waving and Longevity — Do conductors really live longer, and is arm-waving the cause?
So, Who Made You Laugh? — A tribute to the many great Jewish comedians and comic actors whose performances I have enjoyed for almost seven decades.
Hopefully Arrives — Language debasement with a stamp of approval (not by me).
Why Prescriptivism? — The constructive role of language rules.
I’ve Got a Little List — My updating of Sir William S. Gilbert’s lyrics.
Speaking in Foreign Tongues — Why is it hard for adult Americans to speak foreign languages properly?
A Guide to the Pronunciation of General American English — For foreigners, Southerners, and New Englanders.
Home-Field Advantage — It’s real.
Looking Askance — Satirical takes on military strategy, cabinet positions, politicians’ memoirs, and public education.
Competitiveness in Major League Baseball — There’s a lot more of it than there used to be.
May the Best Team Lose — The meaninglessness of baseball’s post-season playoffs.
“Than I” or “Than Me”? — I have the answer.
The Hall of Fame Reconsidered — How to cull the riff-raff from baseball’s “shrine.”
On Writing — How to and how not to write right.